3rd Hand Smoke May Pose More Dangers Than Thought

We have long been writing about the perils of smoking, second-hand smoke, and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">third-hand smoke. Now, Science Daily reports that a new study has found that the dangers of third-hand smoke are even worse that initially believed. Third-hand smoke refers to the residual remains of smoking on surfaces including carpeting, upholstery, clothing, walls, and draperies, for example.

We have long been writing that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America, with cigarettes linked to some 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs annually. Second-hand smoke has been linked to a variety of health issues. Third-hand smoke also poses significant health risks.

The study, which was published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal, Environmental Science & Technology, broadens tobacco smoking risks to include nonsmokers exposed to the health risks of smoking from smoke exhaled by smokers or released from cigarettes, explained Science Daily.

Yael Dubowski and colleagues wrote that third-hand smoke is an emerging culprit in the known “health risks of tobacco and indoor air pollution,” pointing out that studies reveal that the nicotine in third-hand smoke can potentially react to ozone in indoor air and surfaces, creating dangerous pollutants, wrote Science Daily. Exposure to these toxins can remain on surfaces for months, adversely affecting people in contaminated environments, including children crawling on carpeted floors, those sitting or sleeping on furniture, and people ingesting food contaminated by third-hand smoke.

The team analyzed how nicotine and inside air react to various materials known to be used in the home and other indoor environments, for example, cellulose, which is used in wood furniture; cotton; and paper, said Science Daily. It seems, according to the research, that nicotine interacts with indoor ozone to create potentially toxic pollutants, said Science Daily. “Given the toxicity of some of the identified products and that small particles may contribute to adverse health effects, the present study indicates that exposure to [thirdhand smoke] may pose additional health risks,” according to the team’s article, quoted Science Daily.

Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 substances, including over 50 known or suspected carcinogens, and is linked to many diseases in adults and children, such as sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease, lung and sinus cancers, sinus problems, mental problems, and hearing loss. Some 126 million nonsmokers—60 percent of all U.S. non-smokers—are exposed to secondhand smoke. The implications for third-hand smoke are staggering.

Meanwhile, a recent study on which we wrote discussed the implications of third-hand smoke as a consideration when purchasing a home. The study reviewed 25 homes belonging to former smokers after nonsmokers moved in, as well as a control group of 16 homes of former and current nonsmokers. Homes were vacant for about two months and had been cleaned; many homes were painted and had new flooring was installed.

In five cases, nonsmokers reported signs of previous cigarette smoke and the research indicated nicotine levels seven times greater on surfaces and five times greater in the dust of homes previously owned by smokers, said Sign On San Diego previously. Nonsmokers who moved into homes that had been owned by smokers tested with nicotine levels on their skin seven-to-eight times greater than the residents of the control homes, with cotinine levels—a tobacco biomarker—testing at three-to-five times greater in children living in the homes of former smokers, added Sign On San Diego.

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